We’ve talked this week about store cupboard cooking and making ingredients stretch across multiple meals. But how far will you go to recycle other items? This has been on my mind over the past few weeks.
During our holiday in Devon and Exmoor we got to experience other counties’ approaches to recycling, which differed from our own. At home we recycle cardboard, paper, tin cans and plastic bottles in pink plastic sacks, glass bottles and jars in a black plastic box, plus grass cuttings. These are collected fortnightly. For other items, such as batteries, we have to visit specific recycling plants. The managers of our Devon cottage were very switched on, explaining what guests must recycle and when the bins had to be put out for collection.
But the system was different and, it sounds daft, but it took a while for me to get the hang of it. There was a box outside for recyclables rather than a plastic bag, which is obviously greener than our own system, and cooked and uncooked food was recycled in a plastic bin kept in the kitchen and then transferred to a larger bin outside. Batteries were also recycled. It’s probably sad of me, but I was a bit excited by the food recycling! Basildon council are introducing cooked food recycling in October and I was curious to try it out. We work hard not to waste food at home, but there is still the occasional item of cooked food or cat food that winds up in the bin. After a week, our container was full – especially because we were without a compost heap. However, we couldn’t recycle yoghurt pots, food trays or cardboard there, which was a bit of a shame, so I brought these items home with me. We had the car, so it was easy just to throw these items in the boot, but I’m not sure how many other people might bother, especially if they were on foot.
What surprised me at the Exmoor campsite was how little recycling was done. Campers were asked not to waste water which was from a local spring. But each group were simply given a black plastic bag for rubbish, with no separate bins for tin cans or bottles, which was disappointing. However, DJ pointed out how remote the campsite was – we had to drive along a treacherously narrow path along a mountainside to get there – which may have affected refuse collection and he had a point. Perhaps an improvement would have been a sign asking campers to take recyclable items home.
But then I’m no angel either. Back home, I came upon an old chair which is taking up space in our bedroom. Noticing that a neighbour had put out a table for the bin men, I thought about doing the same. I carried the chair downstairs but a pang of guilt overcame me. I remembered I’d purchased it for £10 from a junk shop nine years ago. It served me faithfully as a computer chair until I got a more ergonomic one and I even wrote my first book perched on it. It is covered in bits of wallpaper and paint from when it played its part in decorating our home. OK, it isn’t pretty anymore and I doubt anybody on Freecycle would want it, but it didn’t deserve to end its life in a landfill site and I ought to know better. I told DJ when he got home and he reminded me that he uses the chair when he is decanting his homebrew. So instead of betraying it, I’ve decided to give my old friend a new lease of life either in our hallway or semi-retirement in our greenhouse, where at least it can spend its last working days in the sun. Who knows when we might need its decorating services again and wish we hadn’t thrown it away?
How far would you go to recycle unwanted items at home or on holiday? Should it be easier to do so? Leave a message and let me know your thoughts.
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